FIGHTING TALK

by .

An away day at Liverpool is always huge. More so over the past half-decade. Liverpool is an institution, Anfield is a legendary stadium, and Klopp is a top 3 manager in the world.

The stage is set.

Mikel Arteta usually underplays our chances, but the talk was a little different in his press conference.

He’s talking about confidence in the camp, he’s pumping his players, and he’s making no excuses about the expectations that are being put on Arsenal.

We are going to Anfield to win because that’s what Arsenal Football Club is all about.

This game isn’t a litmus test, people need to move away from that sort of chat… it’s a chance to land a blow on a club that has standards we want to reach.

Since boxing day, we’ve accrued more points than Liverpool. What does that tell you? That they are beatable. Klopp’s side has lost a bit of that invincibility force-field this season. They aren’t quite hitting the heights as consistently as they were a couple of seasons ago. There are vulnerabilities in their system.

The main difference? Huge experience and a 5th gear that we don’t have yet. Both teams at 100% and we’re on the back foot.

So what do we need to see?

A smart game plan executed with maximum focus

Our problem against Chelsea and City was that we conceded inside 15 minutes both times. We can’t afford to do that against a Liverpool side we know will come flying out the traps.

I’d love a fast start, but it’s questionable whether that’s the right approach against Liverpool. A game right after the break might take some time to feel our way into. It might be sharp to just be in the match after 20 minutes and work our way into the game by growing with time.

There needs to be a plan for Mo Salah, the best player in the world right now. We need to have ideas for Liverpool’s wide players. We should be set up to counter-attack at speed, because Liverpool have been leaving openings. We have to play a high line and confidently play around their brutal press when it comes.

Arteta said the weakness in the side was that as a team, we don’t have enough collective experience yet. Let’s be clear, this new group of players hasn’t felt pain together yet. We are unbeaten since our new defence was formed. There’s no record of how we’ll react to a battering from Liverpool. That makes this game interesting for a whole host of reasons.

This is a big moment for the project. Lose, well, we expected it and we’ll have to hope the team can bounce back quickly. Come away with a point or more and we’ll really start to believe something might be brewing early.

I’m very excited. I feel confident we can compete. This is a test we could pass, I haven’t felt that way about a Liverpool game in a while. So let’s see where it goes.

See you in the comments. Join for an OTW podcast right after the game!

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924 Responses to “FIGHTING TALK”

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  1. Guns of SF

    I think for me a real sign would be the ability to beat the top 4 sides.
    That is how you crack into the top 4.
    You have to beat a few of them to just get up there on points. You cannot lost to all of them home and away and expect to be top 4 and beat up on lower level teams. The math just does not work out.
    Today was a test, we failed it badly.
    But hopefully we can win some against the others… I think we can take Chelsea for sure and West Ham…. City Nah, Pool nah… we are just not at that level in any shape of form

  2. China1

    We’ve already missed the boat on signing haaland. If we were in our current situation when he was at his previous club we may have been able to do a Dortmund and get him as a stepping stone like they have.

    But right now we would be a sideways step and he could join any club in the world. The questions we should be asking ourselves are who is the next Mbappe/Haaland and how do we do a Dortmund/Monaco and convince them they should be coming to us

  3. China1

    The good thing is we do have a large crop of really talented kids

    Esr
    Saka
    Saliba (awwwww yea)
    Martinelli
    Sambi
    Patino
    Tavares

    These guys all fair squarely in the youth category but are to varying degrees far beyond where you’d expect. I don’t for one minute expect all of them to become elite but what we do need is for a few of them to (ESr and Saka looking safe bets) and we need at least a couple of the others to become quality squad players at a minimum. If martinelli can be a Carlos Vela, Saliba looks a pretty safe bet to go really far but there are questions about his contract and where he will fit in if white and Gabriel are established. For the others on the list I’ll be happy enough if they can just be really decent rotation options in the next 12-18 months.

  4. China1

    Ode as well. At least if he doesn’t kick on he’s a good rotation option. No huge concerns on his part even tho his passive style does frustrate me a bit. At least as a backup 10 he’s good enough

  5. Emiratesstroller

    Yesterday’s game was whatever way you packaged it a huge disappointment.

    After the first twenty minutes we were overwhelmed and outclassed by a more experienced and superior side.

    Let us hope that some of the younger players will learn a lesson from the experience and not
    be too deflated. Tavares in particular had a shocker in the second half and his mistakes.
    contributed to us conceding two goals.

    Aubameyang and Lacazette were frankly anonymous for most of the game and our lack of
    goals and cutting edge in open play is becoming a major concern. We need to recruit a hard
    working and clinical goalscorer in the next two transfer windows.

  6. Ronald Bolo

    Partey is actually a good player but honestly speaking he is not elite. An elite player is one who walks into any team in the league. Just being frank, I don’t think he has the intensity, focus control, and speed of thought to displace Liverpool or man city midfielder. We can mention fitness issues but against a team that presses with such intensity, he disappears for a fact. His athleticism and physicality does help him a lot though. Worst part is that he offered absolutely nothing in our midfield. On so many occasions I saw Thiago and fabinho in between the defenders and picking up balls from the keeper especially when we pressed the defence in numbers. When they did the same Partey was always hiding not getting away from his markers. Even the Ox, who some people celebrated him starting, was so fast, powerful and direct it was just impressive. Finally, I don’t want to blame Auba but come on man….apart from pressing, which was so hilarious how easy the Liverpool defence dealt with, there is nothing else he did.

  7. Guns of SF

    I agree TP was not sharp today. His movements were slow and reaction time was also slow. I wonder if it was just rust? However, he did hit a nice shot… the best shot we had all game…
    There is just something amiss with the double pivot I feel… it has not really changed our game much. its still the same… and its somewhat conservative with the basically 6 defenders…

    I think this needs to be adjusted… TP either father back or higher up…
    With Xhaka back, TP tends to drop deeper.. which I also feel he is not the best at. He is a B2b. and Xhaka should be our DM but of course sucks in that role.

    TP and a Bissouma would have worked more naturally I feel

  8. Ronald Bolo

    Even Saka and Smith Rowe saw what real power, speed, passion, ruthlessness, and skill are. Let’s hope that we can bounce back next weekend.
    Alexander-Arnold though…damn. Have never seen a full back with such consistency in his deliveries in a very very long time. The precision is just ridiculous.

  9. Ronald Bolo

    @ Guns
    Totally true. If he drops deeper, against teams that sit back, we will be great because one or 2 people pressing him is very easily dealt with. But a coordinated press like yesterday, he would definitely be a liability. This team just needs Cazorla’s technique and press-resistant skills to be able to have one midfielder who is playing deep alone while still having the security, speed, dribbling capacity, vision, and all those skills that santi had in his locker

  10. Ronald Bolo

    “The gap between the two sides may stand at only five points but in truth, it is far greater than the Premier League table shows.”
    Totally true statement from sky sports. 3 games against the big hitters, 11 goals conceded, and non scored, shows the size of our task. Yesterday just showed our level and that the two games vs man city and Chelsea would still have ended the same way regardless of the personnel available.

  11. MidwestGun

    Tavares did handle Mo … not sure what people were imaginary seeing there. Whoscored.com had Mo Salah as Pools lowest rated player. He got the tap in.. but that was all because of Mane.
    Mane is the one who torched us. TT had a terrible second half.
    Tavares just had a nightmare going forward trying to progress the ball.I felt he was forcing the issue into blind alleys. . because Loko and Partey could not all game. They were both very ineffective. especially after the halftime.
    Trent Alexander Arnold who should have been marked by Lokonga and ESR most of the time was also a killer. That coupled with ESR not making him defend enough.. The majority of our attacks were all down the right side. Again I felt that was because of Loko’s inability to link play . and Lacazette was dropping deep and trying to link play but seems like all his play was down the right side as well. Saka was basicially marked out of the game and had a poor match. However, Auba was invisible today except for one chance after we were already losing by 3 goals so hard to come down on anyone but him as far as our front line because in the big games on the road he tends to disappear.

    Overall though for me.. People are like Arteta should have done this .. should have done that… At least for today …it was on the players for me.. they were outclassed. I’m as hard on Teta as anyone… but I dont think Martinelli and Eddie would have won this game for us nor would have a formation change. Only thing I wish we would have done was start AMN over Loko from the kick off. And going forward we need a cm who can partner, Partey right now, like this January … not one in development or a highly limited player like Xhaka either. And of course the striker issue as well but that is going to require Josh K to bust out the credit card.

    Anyhow.. Hope we take this loss out on Newcastle and then United.

  12. Leedsgunner

    We held Liverpool for 40 minutes… why do we feel that our present team should do something no Arsenal side has done for years?

    They are learning together and they are in the process of genuine rebuilding… this takes time.

    I for one am willing to give them until the end of the season before I pass judgment.

    Europe should be realistically possible.

    However for now, I’ll tell you all what I’m happy about.

    We are relevant. We are competing. We are in the fight.

    Up the Arsenal… let’s give Newcastle a beating.

  13. Kroenkephobe

    I dunno what’s up with some of you lot… I travelled north yesterday to watch a formerly invincible team lose and I’m fucking delighted. Preston North End 1 – Cardiff City 2. Fucking brilliant day. That stadium at Deepdale is a beauty to watch football in as well.

    Mind you, hearing all the goals going in at Anfield on the way home rather dampened my spirits. I think the antidote to this Arsenal is definitely going out and actually watching games in situ if you cannot get to see the Gunners that is. My kids had beaming smiles all the way home. Up the Bluebirds!

  14. Kroenkephobe

    Oh, and my take for what it’s worth. There’s a gap in quality between both sets of players (evidently, but that may narrow) but the real chasm exists in the ability of people from Arteta up to Kroenke, compared against Klopp up to John Henry (or whatever his fucking name is).

    Better management of resources, more hands-on ownership, higher standards and far more accomplished at understanding what is needed to achieve success. Liverpool got the best manager available at the time (when we could possibly have ushered him in to replace our aging chihuahua). We settled for something less than Jurgen meaning our progress is diminished and patchy. They’re a long way ahead of us in all the most important aspects of making a club win trophies.

    Oh, and before the usual suspects accuse me of being a red under the bed, I loathe Liverpool almost as much as my hatred for Spurs and Manure. But I CAN see why they’re a much better club than we at are the moment.

  15. Terraloon

    Ronald

    Think your postings are , as they say, hitting the nail on the head.

    This comment

    “Even Saka and Smith Rowe saw what real power, speed, passion, ruthlessness, and skill are”

    and this

    “Partey is actually a good player but honestly speaking he is not elite. An elite player is one who walks into any team in the league”

    For the likes of Arsenal just being around the mix really isn’t good enough and that’s where the club currently are and personally I think this group will continue to be unless some top class players arrive.

    ESR is a rare talent who I personally think is in grave danger of being overplayed add to that he has now dined at the International table and played alongside CL winners and players that are far more rounded than many of this current Arsenal team

    Saka I worry that his performances are starting to go backwards partly because of his involvement at Internalion level.

    They will both have seen the difference between where Arsenal are and the “Big 3” and unless Arsenal show signs of breaking into that number they in their club careers will slowly but surely will get itchy feet.

    I then look at the likes of Partey and your comment is so true. Partey is an adequate player but would he get close to a berth at an English CL participant. When you compare hi to the likes of Kante, well there are no comparisons

    But it’s the inability to score that will come home to haunt sooner rather than later. If the opposition score first then I just don’t see a way back . If the opposition score 2 then as things are the ref would be well advised to call it a day.

    We all witnessed how ineffective the likes of PEA and Lacazette have become . I personally don’t think that the likes of Eddie or Martinelli would change the narrative. The service being provided is woeful. Let the fact that two of the current bottom four have scored more than Arsenal.

    When faced up against well coached and well balanced teams then we have witnessed already what the outcome is . There is no doubt that some of the teams like Brighton are starting to tread water .

    Others, like Spurs, who you would have thought would have a greater points tally have sacked managers so it isn’t going to get easier.

    In a matter of weeks we are going to see just what damage COVID did to the Arsenal coffers and when you fast forward the loss of another £20+ million from non European participation will impact and whilst it require owners writing off loans to enable FFP compliance the possibility of missing out on another season will have dire consequences going forward. The likes of Harland ain’t going to come to Arsenal without EL as a minimum nor dare I say will the funds being available to speed up the player revolution

  16. Graham62

    I will just say this.

    Arteta proved yesterday that he has blinkers on even at times when he is supposed to be cool and understanding of the situation.

    Thanks Mikel for upping Liverpool’s tempo by bringing the crowd into the equation.

  17. Samesong

    Liverpool with there know how knew how to handle ESR and Saka by not giving them space to run into. And by pressing them as soon as they had the ball. The better teams in the league will do that.

    Saka has to learn how to play more narrow instead of hitting wide all the time. ESR tried to play narrow inside first half but was suffocated by their midfield.

  18. Majesticgooner

    It’s a mental block, we have it in our DNA to lose to Liverpool and city,, we have players and to some extent a manager who has never won at anfield , they carry that mental scar, they don’t know how to get results there. Take Liverpool for example they never won the league with the likes of Gerard and carragher and their old guard , we also have to get rid of players like them in and around the squad, and have players going to games fearless and believing they can get a result at those places.

  19. Graham62

    When was the last time that Arsenal FC had a coach with a true winning mentality?

    You know, someone who would set us up to not lose and try and win games that we weren’t expected to win.

    Votes are in.

    The winner is, Mr George Graham.